Five recreational organizations request community service funding in Riverton

    Of the 19 local organizations that requested community service funding from the City of Riverton this year, five provide recreational activities for area residents.

    R Recreation

    The largest request for funding among the group of five came from R Recreation, which asked for $135,000 to continue operating the city’s recreation program.

    R Recreation was formed in 2008, when the city contracted with Central Wyoming College to begin providing community recreational programming and services, the R Recreation funding application notes.


    “We were created by the city, for the city,” R Recreation director Mary Axthelm said during a Riverton City Council work session last week. “You are our governing agency – we do not have another funder for our program.”

    R Recreation’s mission is to “strengthen our community and enrich the lives of all Riverton residents by providing affordable and diverse recreational, physical and cultural opportunities with a focus on families, youth development and building healthy communities.”

    In the past year, the program offered more than 220 classes and served more than 4,800 community members ranging in age from 1 to 83, according to the R Recreation funding application.

    “There’s something for everyone here,” R Recreation Activities Coordinator Ady Thomas said. “We have a toddler treasure hunt, up to a Medicare series, (and we’re) always trying to come up with new programs.”


    Special Olympics

    The next-biggest request for local activity funding came from Special Olympics Riverton, which asked for $15,000 “to purchase much-needed equipment to continue training Special Olympics athletes from Riverton and to continue competing in area and state games.”

    The money would also go toward facility rentals, hotel expenses, and traveling fees, local Special Olympics Coordinator Lori Sanders told the Riverton City Council last week.

    “It’s not cheap,” she said. “We are asking for your help in filling some of the financial gaps.”


    Special Olympics Riverton serves athletes ages 8 and older with cognitive disabilities, providing athletic training in sports like basketball, cheer, swimming, bowling, soccer, snowshoeing, track and field, softball, and bocce ball, Sanders said.

    The athletes also compete in area and state games throughout the year, she said, giving them the opportunity to “create lifelong friendships (with) others just like themselves.”

    “Many of the athletes have friends from all over the state because they’re able to see them a few times a year when we travel for state competition,” she said, adding that, “The cool thing about what the state does, is they offer a banquet, and that banquet allows for them to get together with their friends and they get to dance and have good food and just have a blast (and) make connections.”


    Special Olympics isn’t just about competing, Sanders explained – “it’s about being friends and encouraging everybody else.”

    “At the finish line they always congratulate and cheer each other on,” she said, calling the Special Olympics athletes “some of the best humans on the planet.”

    “Their love of the games and each other astounds every person who volunteers,” Sanders said. “Our country and our world would be better if we could just adopt (their) ability to see people how they are and love people where they’re at.”

    Special Olympics Riverton started in 1997, and Sanders said it currently serves more than 50 athletes – including some who have been involved since the organization’s inception.

    Swim Club, CATS, Little League

    Two local activity organizations requested $10,000 from the City of Riverton this year: the Riverton Swim Club and the Central Wyoming Center for Art, Technology, and Science.

    Swim Club Board Member Tina Jordan said her group would use the money to host swim meets – which bring “a lot of revenue to our town” by attracting out-of-town swimmers and their families – and cover coaching costs, which have gone up due to an increase in club membership.

    “We have exploded from 115 swimmers to 135 swimmers,” Jordan told the council last week, crediting the city for its “generosity” last year that “really helped us (offer) more sponsorship … for less-fortunate swimmers so that they could get into the water.”

    Central Wyoming CATS said the funding it requested would help it “continue to serve the public by covering the cost of utilities (and) some of the cost of payroll” for center staff, who served 4,921 visitors in 2023, according to the CATS funding application.

    The center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and offers STEAM programs on the second Saturday of each month and weekly Craft Corner events at 10:30 a.m. Thursdays.

    Riverton Little League requested $3,000 from the city this year to help with “utilities and field maintenance.”

    “With whatever help the city can provide, we have an environment for everyone to partake and enjoy,” Little League President Devin Gonsalez told the council.

    Funding for Riverton’s community service contracts comes out of the direct distribution the city receives each year from the State of Wyoming, staff said in a memo to the Riverton City Council this month; the allocations are finalized during the budget planning process.

    For more information, call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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